cover image Substitution Cipher

Substitution Cipher

Edited by Kaye Chazan. Candlemark & Gleam, $19.95 trade paper (300p) ISBN 978-1-936460-40-3

If this anthology of six short stories that ask “What if?” doesn’t stack up against similar volumes, like The Best Alternate History Stories of the 20th Century, its well-written entries will still divert fans of the subgenre. Take, for example, Tyler Bugg’s chillingly plausible “From Enigma to Paradox,” where the Nazis learn of Britain cracking their codes with the Enigma machine and launch an elaborate counter-counterintelligence operation in response. Perhaps most audacious and interesting is G. Miki Hayden’s “In God We Trust,” which presents President Eleanor Roosevelt as only the latest in a hallowed American tradition of female political leaders going back to George Washington’s secretary of state, Betsy Ross. M. Fenn’s opening “So the Taino Call It” neatly sets the collection’s tone by proposing a modern-day version of the Americas that’s remained pre-Columbian, while editor Chazan’s own “The Ashkenazi Candidate” explores how the cold war might have played out between Britain and the U.S. (Dec.)